YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

October 17, 2015

The October 2015 Political Scene in a few words

Credit SodaHead

Credit SodaHead

I apologize for the satirical, repulsive picture of Mrs. Clinton, but Hillary is turning into a hag/Medusa/Gorgon because aging women can’t yell as she often does. They are already suspect as crones. I noticed that the 1960s rallies featured speakers who hollered. The more feverish part of the Sixties are partly over, though their effects linger in the Democrat Party.

Hillary is also evoking the image of the unreliable mother: too many switches from smiling protector to scolding and disapproval, turning her opponents to stone. She has flip flopped frequently in her move to out-“socialist” Bernie Sanders: gay marriage, free trade, and the Keystone Pipeline (that the State Department approved under her watch as Madam Secretary).

Bernie. The idea that he is a communist or some kind of ultra-leftist boring from within is absurd; real communists abolish private property altogether, would never tweak the system as vindictive populists would. He is a regular social democrat, imitating the (failing) West European states. The Old “McCarthyite” Right was understandably confused. Statist New Dealers, statist Stalinists, and statist Fascists were all conflated in the notion of “totalitarianism,” a notion perpetuated by social democrats and other New Dealers. (On their secret thoughts see https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/, retitled “Balance, equilibrium, and psychological warfare.”)

Black Lives Matter. Anyone reading the history of black people in this country may be tempted to erase boundaries between past and present. Our transformation to a non-racist society creeps along, but it is untrue that there has been no black progress. Dems still push the idea of white supremacy to mobilize the black base, all the while ignoring labor competition as a factor not to be ignored, lest they be labeled as Reds, which is a no-no for social democrats. For origins of the movement, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter. They don’t mention black nationalism, however.

Renee Jones Schneider Star Tribune 4/29/15 Minneapolis

Renee Jones Schneider Star Tribune 4/29/15 Minneapolis

The Mid-East. Fox News Channel continues its moderate approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, criticizing POTUS for not seeing that Israelis are victims, not morally equivalent perpetrators. But they don’t review the history of the region: Arab elites were horrified that Europeans were cooperating in parking modernizing Jews in “their” neighborhood. “Palestinians” still insist on the Right of Return, which would destroy the notion of a Jewish national home. Oil politics matter too.


June 2, 2013

Hair and Make-up: Megyn Kelly smackdown


[Update 10-26-16:last night, MK demanded that Trump “take responsibility” for his insults in an interview with Mike Pence, then took on Newt Gingrich who failed to back down in their dispute over media bias.]

[Update, 10-1-16: Megyn Kelly continues to present herself as a feminist, while seemingly regressing to an “aw shucks” parody of femininity and defending (obesity) in the name of outraged womanhood.]

Megyn Kelly, often considered the brainiest of Fox News Channel anchors, does not overtly define herself as a feminist, but she sure sounded like one in her spirited and feisty interviews with Lou Dobbs (Fox News Channel commentator) and Erick Erickson (editor of Redstate.com), May 31, 2013. So much so that liberal blogs have been gleefully covering her encounter with the two conservative males.

(See the smackdown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN_EP3zcUXs )

Before I go on to the time wasted by women in decking themselves out as dolls and harem girls (Betty Grable, illustrated: the number  one pinup girl in WW2), I must make this point about the internal contradiction of some “Christian” thought: Much of what Dobbs and Erickson presented as incontrovertible truth relies upon some brand of sociobiology: men were, they insisted, biologically determined to be protectors of the weaker females, especially during the vulnerable period of pregnancy and child-rearing. Working women who defied these God- and Nature-given sex roles are obviously responsible for social decadence and worse. (The same would go for ‘unnatural’ gay marriages where the usual division of labor between father and mother would not prevail.)

On the other hand, many social conservatives often believe that our species is not in Nature, but stands above it: nothing so irritating as a Spinoza follower, who often drops into pantheism.  (See Leon Wieseltier’s commencement speech quoted here: https://clarespark.com/2013/05/30/nostalgia-for-the-middle-ages/. Wieseltier draws a sharp line between Man and Nature and laments the period when the two were conflated. )

I would have preferred that Megyn Kelly, herself an experienced lawyer, point out this contradiction, but she chose to stand up for working women and for married gay parents, suggesting that research had shown that their children were not harmed by the lack of a traditional father and mother.

Nothwithstanding her smackdown of Dobbs and Erickson, Kelly is a babe, whatever she says about herself;  I felt some cognitive dissonance watching her stand up to the two conservatives, for she is a beautiful, expertly-coiffed, heavily made-up blonde. After seeing the encounter yesterday, I thought I should say something about “hair and makeup”, those two time-consuming, nature-defying imperatives for women out in the world or waiting at home for the male breadwinner to return to his castle.

Antiquity-dreams...Deviant Art

Antiquity-dreams…Deviant Art

In the nineteenth century, during the first wave of feminism, the female pioneers whose tireless efforts and dedication gave women the consideration and political power they wield today, were not babes. They were usually religious Protestants, were plainly dressed, and certainly did not waste hours and hours on coloring their hair or applying make-up to enhance their lips, cheeks, and eyes, let alone painting their fingernails and toenails or lusting after high heeled shoes by Christian Louboutin. Rather, such decorations were generally confined to actresses and fancy women.  There were not enough hours in the day for self-education (19th century women did not attend male colleges or have their own–with a few exceptions– and were denied entrance to the professions, though their [maternal]nursing skills were highly valued); these heroic early feminists were traveling to remote parts of America to further feminist  causes (including abolition, temperance, votes for women, cleaning up corrupt city governments, and rescuing prostitutes from a life of disease, degradation and early death). Some of them were unmarried, while others had large families: household help was cheaper and husbands pitched in. In regarding their intertwined efforts at elevating our country, historian David Pivar has described their cause as a “purity crusade.”

Generally considered to be killjoys determined to pry into the affairs of men, these women have been caricatured by other male opponents.  As a rising class, as progressive women “who want to make the whole world home-like”, they are blamed for “the nanny state” and for “the fetishism of facts.” Their masculinist opponents “want a girl, just like the girl that married dear old Dad.” Lots of luck, guys. (For more blogs on the various stages of feminism, see https://clarespark.com/2012/09/04/links-to-blogs-on-feminism/, or its twin https://clarespark.com/2012/03/19/links-to-feminist-blogs/.)

The photographer of the Deviant Art image is John Lynn of SNTP, and is on Facebook, as is Raven Winter, stylist and model.

its time to wear the pants

August 14, 2012

Sex, drugs, and venting

Clare circa 1972

The website has now lumbered past 175,000 views since I started it circa summer 2009. My family is thunderstruck that so many are interested in this bookworm’s research, but I suspect that many of the visitors expected another kind of blog, if I can judge by those coming from such sites as Pajamas Media. I think they want to feed their anger and frustration, as opposed to looking at ideology and the often confusing history of political coalitions: for instance, numerous viewers went to the index to my blogs on “Pacifica Radio and the Progressive Movement”( https://clarespark.com/2010/07/04/pacifica-radio-and-the-progressive-movement/) but only about 25% of them read even one of the blogs. Those who regularly come to my Facebook page have more inquiring minds and are much better gauges of how well the website is doing. And they regularly contribute material about which I was either ignorant or inattentive.

Indignation can be productive when it leads to closer examination of policy issues, but is depoliticizing when it goes no further than venting. We might even suppose that this sort of obsession with scandalous “inside dope” packs a sexual charge, a form of sexuality that is sadistic and addictive. I have seen it on numerous websites, and it is not confined to either Left or Right. Worse, trolls are everywhere; give me a real skunk any time: at least they announce their true nature.

I don’t have “inside dope” other than what I get from close readings of texts, or learned in my years at KPFK radio, or in graduate school at UCLA, where I witnessed the domination of Stalinists, Stalinoids, Trotskyists, and postmodernists, “up close and personal.” Even the feminists were more left-wing than feminist. Oddly, I was labeled “that hysterical feminist” even though at that time (1983-1993), I was more of a Marxist than anything else: that is, I could see through the postmodern “moral relativism” and nihilism of the pseudo-Left, and favored class analysis over sorting people out by gender or race. When I raised objections to separatist ethnic studies or women’s studies in favor an integrated approach to the writing of history, tenured professors would scream out loud, make odd gestures with their hands, or call me a racist. It was Pacifica Radio all over again where, on one of my last appearances, my defense of the Enlightenment and the life of Reason elicited charges that I was a CIA agent or worse.

Arnold Bocklin Medusa

So why was I called (behind my back) “that hysterical feminist”? I would guess that a woman standing up to the orthodoxies put forth by prominent professors and other famous intellectuals (of either gender) was too evocative of Gorgons and Medusas. If there is a “war on women” it is an ingrained fear of the independent, curious mind—one that is not gender specific. I stand with that human impulse, and with every writer or artist who goes her own way.  “To life!”

(Illustrated: a photo of Clare after a prank. I wore a Berkeley-generated Karl Marx sweat shirt, along with rhinestone drop earrings to an Ed Ruscha opening on La Cienega Blvd. during the early 1970s. It was a comment on Ruscha’s letter paintings, including his patronage, and I don’t think he appreciated the joke, though some of his visitors did.)

May 10, 2011

What is an elite/elitism?


As my readers know, I used to be active at Pacifica radio in Los Angeles (KPFK-FM), especially as program director, but also during my series “How Do We Know When We Are Not Fascists?” that ended in the late 1990s. My project then as now was to defend the Enlightenment and science against its numerous anti-intellectual detractors. There were moments when a barrage of angry phone calls accused me of “elitism” though that term was not defined by those who use it regularly. Later in my career, a Canadian follower of Charles Olson accused me of having written “a Medusa book.” What I did not see then was that for many of these [populist] name-callers (always male, by the way), elite meant Jews–the demonic Jews who supposedly infested Hollywood and the mass media; Jews who had planted a computer chip in their brains that set them against authority and/or their parents; such mad scientists and masculinized women were emissaries of Our Great Adversary. Had I polled my most vehement critics, I suspect that each and every one was a follower of Noam Chomsky–a great favorite with the Pacifica audience and with such New Leftists as populated Z Magazine or South End Press.

This will be a short blog. In the olden times, before the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, then the American and French Revolutions, the term elites referred to the monarchs of Europe, the Catholic Church, and the aristocracy, whose wealth was usually based on the land and the rents their tenants provided. (During the age of exploration, some aristocrats merged their interests with the rising bourgeoisie, so we cannot say that every aristocrat was an agrarian. See Robert Brenner’s Merchants and Revolution.) The point is that class mobility was limited in the various old regimes. There was a definable elite, and the lower orders stayed put. They had no intellectual or political or economic apparatus to lift them from the mire.

All that changed in the age of Revolution, the start of which I date with the invention of the printing press and the subsequent, gradual rise in mass literacy. Along with that came a new confidence in “the lower orders” as they were buttressed by empiricism, science, and the evidence of their senses. Such momentous, life-transforming developments destroyed the customary deference to the great families and instilled confidence in the common reader. There was now the possibility of a democratic polity in a republican form of government. I can say with great certainty that the old elites did not take these transformations lying down. When they could not destroy their challengers, they attempted to co-opt them by taking the best and brightest into their ruling institutions. This website is mostly devoted to tracking these usually successful attempts and to warning the autodidacts to beware of false friends, but also that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing: to imagine that all “experts” are swindlers is to throw away the competence that has changed the world for the better.

In our would-be democratic republic, the intellectual and emotional demands on the electorate are unprecedented in the history of our species.  If we choose, we may turn away from the difficulties in discovering the truth, and hew to the party line, and I include every political faction that exists. Or we can constantly test our leaders and representatives, using every tool and resource at our disposal.  What we cannot do is blindly follow the leader and react emotionally to the appeal of demagogues who denounce all “experts” or “elites” in the name of vox populi. Such persons, while supposedly attuned to the voice of God speaking through the People,  implicitly embrace nihilism, a philosophy wherein all truths are contingent and relative–except those spewing from the lips of the celebrity or pundit or cleric or public intellectual du jour.

I have just finished reading Benjamin Disraeli’s novel Contarini Fleming. My jaw dropped as I read its final three paragraphs, for I had not expected this noted organic conservative, surely an avatar of the European elite, to end Contarini’s romantic memoir with these modern sentiments:

“When I examine the state of European society with the unimpassioned spirit which the philosopher can alone command, I perceive that it is in a state of transition from feodal to federal principles. This I conceive to be the sole and secret cause of all the convulsions that have occurred and are to occur.

“Circumstances are beyond the control of man; but his conduct is in his own power. The great event is as sure as that I am now penning this prophecy of its occurrence. With us it rests whether it shall be welcomed by wisdom or by ignorance, whether its beneficent results shall be accelerated by enlightened minds, or retarded by its dark passions.

“What is the arch of the conqueror, what the laurel of the poet! I think of the infinity of space, I feel my nothingness. Yet if I am to be remembered, let me be remembered as one who, in a sad night of gloomy ignorance and savage bigotry was prescient of the flaming morning-break of bright philosophy, as one who deeply sympathized with his fellow-men, and felt a proud and profound conviction of their perfectibility; as one who devoted himself to the amelioration of his kind, by the destruction of error and the propagation of truth.”

Truth and Perfectibility: those are fighting words in a meritocracy.

March 27, 2011

Progressive mind-managers, ca. 1941-42


The following is an excerpt from Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival, chapter two (slightly revised). I did not know when I wrote it how active Harvard University and other elite schools were in promoting interest in, and/or “tolerance” of the New Germany during the 1930s (see Stephen Norwood’s The Third Reich and the Ivory Tower)

Had Norwood’s book appeared earlier, I might have been less shocked by the formulations of Harvard- associated social psychologists and their “progressive” colleagues. For the continued relevance of Bateson’s communications theory, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reiss.

Staatsnation to Kulturnation. The official New Lights were formulated partly in opposition to the irreligious motions of radical psychologists in the late 1930s. For example, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues was founded in 1936 as a pro-labor Progressive caucus of the American Psychological Association, vowing to disseminate the findings of social psychology to a broad public. Its First Yearbook was published in 1939, bearing the title Industrial Conflict: A Psychological Interpretation and included articles by Marxists, left-liberals, and conservatives in related disciplines who were sympathetic to the labor movement; one article helped workers and their allies to decode anti-labor propaganda disseminated by the Hearst newspapers. When the Second Yearbook, Civilian Morale appeared in 1942, there was little continuity with the more materialist group of authorities. One new presence was the anthropologist Gregory Bateson, originator of double bind theory, a diagnosis of structurally-induced schizophrenia. Bateson was not looking at the mixed-messages dispensed by corporatist liberals; rather, he held cold, rejecting-but-seductive mothers responsible for tying up and gagging their sons. Absent fathers were ordered home to block that Gorgon stare, redirecting the Libido away from red-hot, ice-cold mommas. In 1976, schizophrenia was still thought by Bateson followers to be caused by “the absence of anyone in the family, such as a strong and insightful father, who can intervene in the relationship between the mother and child and support the child in the face of the contradictions involved.”[i] (The Gorgon Face had already appeared in Weaver’s Melville biography of 1921.)

Bateson had been a member of the Committee for National Morale created in the summer of 1940 by art historian Arthur Upham Pope in the hope of founding a “federal morale service”; Bateson’s essay “Morale and National Character” pondered the tasks of Americans managing other societies.[ii] The concerns of anthropologist Bateson rhymed with those of the Texas populist three years earlier, especially in the matter of what Martin Dies more vulgarly called “class hatred.” Defending the beleaguered notion of national character, Bateson urged that his concept of bipolarity (“dominance-submission, succoring-dependence, and exhibitionism-spectatorship”) refine (or replace) the “simple bipolar differentiation” typical of “western cultures”:”…take for instance, Republican-Democrat, political Right-Left, sex differentiation, God and the devil, and so on. These peoples even try to impose a binary pattern upon phenomena which are not dual in nature–youth vs. age, labor vs. capital, mind vs. matter.” (my emph. Classical liberals and revolutionary socialists are in sharp disagreement over whether or not capital and labor are structurally at odds with one another. When I wrote my book, I was still writing from the left.)[iii]

Bateson, the hip pagan materialist, has rejected passé formulations like the mind-body dualism; thus we may give credence to his non-dualisms between labor and capital or youth and age. Like the rest of Civilian Morale, Bateson’s essay carried the same progressive “holistic” message as the Nation of 1919. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/.) Jeffersonian comrades were spun from neo-Hamiltonian Federalists to unify the “national psyche,” abjuring caste and standing with “labor” by regulating rapacious capitalists, yet guaranteeing the sanctity of property; gently substituting “social science research” for “punitive attitudes.”[iv] Gardner Murphy contributed “Essentials For A Civilian Morale Program in American Democracy” to the collection, deploying a simile from geology to nudge his materialist colleagues off the margins: classes, only apparently at odds, he argued, were really like stalactites and stalagmites, each growing toward each other to “coalesce” in mid-air to form one big pillar (407-408). Murphy, a reader of Vernon Parrington, knew he had to reconcile thrusting “Jeffersonians,” the grass-roots, Bill of Rights-oriented folk, with stubborn Hamiltonian gentry types hanging from the ceiling. But Murphy was pulling a fast one: stalagmites do not emerge from the earth, thrusting upward toward coalescence; rather, stalagmites are very slowly layered with tiny limey drips over thousands of years; the same drips from on high produce the stalactite. When stalagmite and stalactite finally meet, they have not performed like groping bodies in the dark, finding each other at the moderate center to form a more perfect union.

Not to worry; as Murphy implied, inequality was actually natural and earthy because ethnic and religious minority groups have different and diverse “taste or aptitudes or aims” but could shake hands “within the common framework of a reachable goal” (419-420). “Dissidents” must be fed accurate facts to modify their habitual, misinformed (“skeptical,” 410) name-calling, and taken into the Big Barn of civilian morale-planners, trailing clouds of hydrogen sulfide behind them:”The minority-group member can be shown the specific contribution which he can make. His contribution may add to the more placid and bovine contribution of the co-working group. Not only in Congress and in the press, but in the planning of local morale work itself, there should be some acrid critics, not just to buy off the critics as a group, but to introduce some sulphur into the planning process (420, my emph.).”

Not that the minority-group member was demonic. As Bateson had explained, the natural dualism between God and the devil was an outmoded crotchet of Western culture. Ethical distinctions between good and evil had been transcended. The new dispensation juxtaposed different roles: some folks were led into dominance, succorance, and exhibitionism; others into submission, dependence, and spectatorship. The progressive psychologist of 1942, as Gardner Murphy explained it, would lead his newly-inclusive, newly-fertilized, newly-inspirited crew of planners into the open-ended quest to discover “a workable amount and form of private property and of private initiative.” (424, Murphy’s italics). Oddly, the newly-minted Jeffersonian was not flustered by the given fact that “the press, necessarily under our system [is] an organ of business….” (428); moreover Murphy regretted that Dr. Henry A. Murray’s proposal for a “federal department of social science” had met closed doors in Washington (429).

But what of acrid Ahab and his tic douloureux; where would they fit in? Murphy explained that [isolatoes] were happier in groups lauding interdependence and “group thinking”: it could be shown through “existing data and fresh experiments” that authoritarian controls within democratic structures would be appropriate because “leaderless groups, formless democracies, are ineffective or even frustrating” (422-424). But the plan was not “totalitarian, laissez-faire or Marxist” because of its “respect for individual differences and the welcoming of criticism.” The individual (leader) finds “resolution” in the context of “mutual interindividual trust” and in the process of “trying to mold the group to his will under conditions permitting the other members of the group to accept or reject such leadership.” In other words, you could take a plan or leave it, but if you were led to reject the leader’s vision, you might be returned to the toiling masses, which would make it easier, perhaps, for the others to find “resolution” of difference.

The socially responsible alchemists were joined by the Frankfurt School German-Jewish refugees in the early 1940s. Like other progressive productions in social psychology, the massive and numerous studies of the “authoritarian personality” by Adorno, Horkheimer et al, have transmuted objective conflicts of interest and rational responses to economic crises into symptoms of personal irresponsibility. The refugee philosophers, Marxist-Freudians to a man, explained that the character structure of the middle-class with its falsely feeling mass culture and yen for agitators produced mass death in the twentieth century.[v] The overall project of their critical theory was to discredit excessively liberal values while subtly accrediting the discourse and world-view of organic conservativism–re-baptised by T.W. Adorno as genuine liberalism, like Wordworth’s “genuine liberty”(The Prelude, XIV, 132 [vi]), antidote to the protofascist “authoritarian personality.”[vii]

I speak in recollection of a time
When the bodily eye, every stage of life
The most despotic of our senses, gained
Such strength in me as often held my mind
In absolute dominion. Gladly here,
Entering upon abstruser argument,
Could I endeavour to unfold the means
Which Nature studiously employs to thwart
This tyranny, summons all the senses each
To counteract the other, and themselves,
And makes them all, and the objects with which all
Are conversant, subservient in their turn
To the great ends of Liberty and Power. (XIV, 127-139)
…I remember well
That in life’s every-day appearances
I seemed about this time to gain clear sight
Of a new world–a world, too, that was fit
To be transmitted, and to other eyes
Made visible; as ruled by those fixed laws
Whence spiritual dignity originates,
Which do both give it being and maintain
A balance, an ennobling interchange
Of action from without and from within;
The excellence, pure function, and best power
Both of the objects seen, and eye that sees. ( William Wordsworth, “The Prelude,” XIV, 367-378)

According to the Kleinian psychoanalytic theory of “projective identification” the self projects forbidden aggression into an external object which must be controlled. In the case of the upwardly mobile middle class, their (contemptible essentially Jewish or female) will to power is supposedly projected upon the (useful) Jews. Stubborn adherence to non-dualisms was identified with scapegoating, obviously a bad thing for mental health. Social psychologist Gordon Allport denounced group prejudice in his frequently reprinted Freedom Pamphlet of 1948, The ABC’s of Scapegoating. [viii] Allport advised Americans to adjust to pluralism by looking inside to check their “moral cancer” (7). Whites should stop scapegoating blacks, Christians should stop scapegoating Jews, “labor” should stop scapegoating “the spokesmen for ‘business’ ” (like Allport?), and conservatives should stop confusing liberals with communists by scapegoating FDR (26). Allport’s pamphlet is illuminated by comparison with the worksheets he earlier devised with Dr. Henry A. Murray for the Harvard seminar Psychological Problems in Morale (1941), meant to be disseminated to “private organizations” throughout the nation. As part of the Harvard Defense Council, the seminar was to be “an important component in a general program of coordinated research.”[ix] The materials for the course consisted of one short red-bound typescript, and numerous stapled worksheets, each methodically dealing with some aspect of propaganda, including a summary of Hitler’s personality and psychodynamics that would inform counter-propaganda. Hitler’s duplicity, irrationality and contempt for the masses was constantly compared with American rationality, which oddly enough, was derived from the protofascist and irrationalist social theorist, Vilfredo Pareto.[x]

In worksheet #4, “Determinants of Good and Bad Morale,” the authors outlined “aggressive needs in group coherence.”

First, there must be “outlets for grievances”: “Provision for the free expression of opinion improves morale.” Second, “scapegoat outlets” were another aid to good morale:”The direction of aggression against a subversive minority group may reduce tensions, and will be least disruptive if the scapegoat group is one which is in conflict with the total group in respect of major immediate aims. Aggression had better be directed against the external enemy, but if this is frustrated, or the group becomes apathetic, the subversive minority group may improve morale by either (1) reducing frustrated tensions of aggression or (2) reawakening aggression, or (3) displacing aggression away from intra-group aggression, or (4) displacing aggression away from the leaders of the group, if and when reversed [sic] are suffered (p.8).” [might the scapegoated group be “Jews”?]

I am suggesting that the ahistoric, irrationalist concept of “scapegoating” or “negative identity” cannot explain “prejudice”; rather, the pluralists are admitting there is no basis for unity in class societies whose politics are organized around national or ethnic “peaceful competition.” If the only unity is found in differing groups worshipping one “ideal self” (or artwork, which will, in practice, be designated by the elite), then the bad individualist like Melville will be attacked. Thou shalt not question the good parent’s benevolence or the possibility of “group adjustment” by reconfiguring the social structure along materialist, i.e., “Jacobin” lines. As Sartre noted in his wartime essay Anti-Semite and Jew, German unity was forged solely in the common project to remove the social irritant that prevented natural harmony. This “prejudice” against the Jewish intellect and its sulking reverence, so corrosive to “natural” family bonds, was specific to a pluralist society whose objective divisions could not be overcome without some measure of institutional transformation. The rooted cosmopolitanism of the moderate men, by definition masking class and gender conflicts with the bizarre notion of competing, yet peacefully co-existing, mutually adapting ethnic groups, is thus deceptive and discredits all science: its “pluralism” and “tolerance” attack the moral individual seeking common ground by straying outside the boundaries set by elites.

In the case of the Murray-Allport worksheets, those limits were scientistically delineated; the Jeffersonian tradition was co-opted and redefined in the indispensable “Values of the Past”: “The more awareness there is of the group’s heroic past the better the morale. (Freedom from Old World Oppression, Jeffersonian Democracy, etc.) The more awareness of a national tradition of which the group is ashamed or guilty, the worse the morale…The slogan “Make The World Safe For Democracy” was anchored neither in the historical past or future. A durable morale must be historically anchored in the past and in the future, as well as in the present (Worksheet #4, 4, 5).” So much for the messianic republican mission and Wilsonian Progressivism. The ever-questioning, self-critical temper of the Enlightenment, the very Head and Heart of the libertarian eighteenth century, could only lead to bad morale. Although the authors had discarded the Wilsonian project, they went on to say that racial or economic discrimination were bad for morale, that there could be no doubt about the prospects for a better postwar world. A hodge-podge of factors: “communism, fascism, economic chaos, depression, or uncertainty,” all would impair morale (6). Peace aims were suggested: an International Police Force would ensure that “There will be a better distribution of the goods of the earth; all classes will be benefited” (Red-bound typescript, 13).” But war aims must remain vague, for we were a “pluralist society,” not a “unified society”; there were different strokes for different folks: “Disparities of statements shouldn’t be too obvious or made visible” (#4, 7).Properly guided we would be historically anchored in promises of abundance and an illusion of unity, yet we were not fascists.

The section “General Attitudes Toward Leaders” anticipated the criticism that American propaganda duplicated Nazi methods. First the authors warned “the less the faith in sources of information, the worse the morale.” The next item suggested “Linking of Present Leader to the Idealized Leaders of the Past”:”The more the present leader is seen as continuing in the footsteps of the great idealized leaders of the past, the better the morale. (Picture of Roosevelt between Washington and Lincoln would encourage this identification.) The more the present leader is seen as falling short of the stature of the great idealized leaders of the past, the worse the identification (11).  By effective leadership the group’s latent communality may emerge through identification with the leader. If this smacks of the Führer-Prinzip, we would insist that
identification is a process common to all societies, and that what distinguishes the democratic leadership from the Nazi leadership is not the process of identification but the content of what is identified with. It is the function of the democratic leader to inspire confidence in the democratic way of life, in its value for the individual or the society and not mere identification with his person, or the mythical Volk (16).” (my emph.)

For the tolerant materialists Murray and Allport, as with David Hume before them, there is no foreordained clash between individuals and institutions, no economic relationships to undermine altruism and benevolence: man is naturally communal and “society” as a coherent entity, a collective subject, actually exists. The good leader is neither autocratic nor corrupt,“does not waver, is not self-seeking, is impartial, accepts good criticism” (#4, 10). As we have seen, tolerance, i.e., criticism of leadership, had its limits.[xi] Jefferson’s legacy had to be reinterpreted because critical support of political institutions in the Lockean-Jeffersonian-Freudian mode is not identical with “identification,” an unconscious process whereby primitive emotions of early childhood are transferred to all authority, coloring our ‘rational’ choices and judgments. Only the most rigorous and ongoing demystification and precise structural analysis (with few or no government secrets) could maintain institutional legitimacy for political theorists in the libertarian tradition, but, for the moderates, such claims to accurate readings as a prelude to reform were the sticky residue of the regicides. And where is the boundary between good and bad criticism? Alas, just as Martin Dies had suggested that the poor should tolerate the rich, Murray and Allport advised Americans to tolerate (or forget) “Failure in the Nation’s Past.” We must do better, of course.

The worksheet continues, recommending that traditional American evangelicalism embrace the disaffected, for there may be moderate enthusiasts in the new dispensation:”The submerging of the individual in enthusiastic team work is not altogether foreign to the American temper. This means Jews, the “lower” classes, the draftees, labor unions, and so on. It cannot be done by fiat, but the inequalities might be mitigated if not removed, so that otherwise apathetic groups would feel a stake in the defense of the country, and the middle and upper classes more aware of the meaning of democracy (16).” These latter remarks were intended to answer the question Murray and Allport had posed at the beginning of their book: “Certain themes in Axis propaganda are continually stressed, notably the self-righteousness and hypocrisy of the democracies in general and of the U.S. (and President Roosevelt) in particular. What’s to be done about it?” (4).

Virtually the entire postwar program of conservative reform was foreshadowed in these pages. As formulated in the mid-nineteenth century, abolitionist and working-class demands for universal education, equal rights, and enforcement of the Constitution would be redirected into the quotas of affirmative action or multiculturalism. In worksheet #17, “Long Term Aspects of Democratic Morale Building,” a program of integration and deferential politeness would rearrange the American people’s community: “…far from ignoring or suppressing diversities of intelligence, the objective of democratic morale-building should be their conscious integration into an improving collective opinion. The techniques of such integration exist. They are inherent in the democratic tradition of tolerance and the democratic custom of free discussion. They exist, however, in outline rather than in any ultimate or perhaps even very high state of development (4).

[Quoting Gordon Allport:]…Our pressure groups [the Jews complaining about Nazis?] are loud, their protests vehement and our method of electioneering bitter and sometimes vicious. In the process of becoming self-reliant Americans have lost respect, docility, and trust in relation to their leaders. Our habit of unbridled criticism, though defended as a basic right, brings only a scant sense of security to ourselves in an emergency, and actively benefits the enemies of the nation (5).” (Murray’s and Allport’s emph.)

And one such source of insecurity (i.e., subversion) was anti-war education and pacifism: “insofar as the disapproval of war was based on a rejection of imperialist patriotism, it engendered war-cynicism” (Red-bound typescript, 4). In other words, Murray and Allport were admitting that involvement in the war could not be legitimated as an anti-imperialist intervention, nor could there be any other appeal to reason. Leaders, past and present, would have to be idealized; all criticism bridled in the interest of “integration.” The disaffected should moderate their demands, settling for mitigation, not relief. And if, despite the neo-Progressive prescriptions, the road to national unity remained rocky, scapegoating, properly guided by social scientific principles, would certainly deflect aggression away from ruling groups.

[i] 87. See Carlos E. Sluzki and Donald C. Ransom, ed. Double Bind: The Foundation of The Communicational Approach to the Family (New York: Grune & Stratton, 1976), 11.

[ii] 88. The preface by Goodwin Watson reviewed the history of the Committee in the passive voice and with vagueness as to the politics of their group: “Concern with American morale in the face of a developing world crisis was evidenced at the meeting of the S.P.S.S.I. in September 1940. At that time a Committee on Morale was appointed, under the chairmanship of Professor Gardner Murphy. During the year 1940-41 interest in morale grew, and at the 1941 meetings several programs of the American Psychological Association and of the American Association for Applied Psychology were devoted to discussions of morale. In
accord with its purpose to communicate psychological findings on public questions, the S.P.S.S.I. decided in September 1941, to postpone some other yearbooks, and to concentrate immediate effort on a volume dealing with civilian morale. Professor Goodwin Watson of Teacher’s College Columbia University was appointed editor, and the book was planned in coordination with the president of the S.P.S.S.I., Professor Kurt Lewin, University of Iowa, and the Society’s secretary, Professor Theodore Newcomb, University of Michigan” (vi).

[iii]89.  Gregory Bateson, “Morale and National Character,” Civilian Morale: Second Yearbook of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, ed. Goodwin Watson (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1942), 71-91.

[iv] 90. See Goodwin Watson, “Five Factors in Morale,” Civilian Morale, 30-47, and Gardner Murphy, “Essentials for a Civilian Morale Program in American Democracy,” 405-436. According to Murphy, the federal morale service (designed for both temporary and permanent morale) fell through because it evoked the Creel Committee of WWI; Americans would have rejected “active propaganda,” preferring “patient discovery by Americans of what they really thought about the world predicament.” See Murphy, 426-427, 429.

[v]  91. See T.W. Adorno, Leo Lowenthal, Paul W. Massing, “Anti-Semitism and Fascist Propaganda,” Anti-Semitism, A Social Disease, ed. Ernst Simmel (New York.: International Universities Press, 1946): 125-138; Nathan W. Ackerman and Marie Jahoda, Anti-Semitism and Emotional Disorder (New York: Harper, 1950) and the other publications in the series “Studies in Prejudice” edited by Max Horkheimer and Samuel H. Flowerman, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.  See below for the links of their identity politics (usually attributed to Erik Erikson) to the Harvard/Chicago pragmatists:  Parsons and Lasswell. Cf. Hugh Seton-Watson, “The Age of Fascism and its Legacy,” International Fascism, ed. George L. Mosse (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979), 365. Hitler was only slightly indebted to the capitalists (who did not extensively fund him, or put him in power), and he soon brought them to heel. The irrationalist interpretation of Nazism as an outpouring of bad middle-class taste was followed by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, defending modernism in its reconstruction of the Nazi Degenerate Art exhibition of 1937.

[vi] 92. Melville owned (and took with him on his 1860 Meteor voyage) The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth Together With A Description of the Country of the Lakes in the North of England, Now First Published with His Works, ed. Henry Reed (Phila.,1839). Some of his (surviving) annotations were discussed in Thomas F. Heffernan, “Melville and Wordsworth,” American Literature (Nov. 1977): 338-351. There is no mention of “The Prelude.” Hershel Parker states that Duyckinck brought the Appleton proof sheets of the poem to the Berkshires in 1850, and even reviewed it, but that neither he nor Melville read the poem at that time; see Parker, “Melville & The Berkshires,” American Literature: The New England Heritage , eds. James Nagel and Richard Astro (New York: Garland Publishing, 1981), 68. Parker suggests that Melville’s sympathies for the suffering poor were inspired by Wordsworth’s cottagers and his own professional or personal traumas of the early 1850s (78-79), while Heffernan noted the importance of  “The Excursion” to Clarel (351), a work displaying “the similarity of moral and religious concerns.”

[vii]  93. See T.W. Adorno et al, The Authoritarian Personality (New York: Harper, 1950), 71, 781-783. The “Genuine Liberal” type is anti-totalitarian and free of narcissism; in Adorno’s appropriation of Freud, the genuine liberal possesses “that balance between superego, ego, and id which Freud deemed ideal” (71). Adorno’s example of the type is a politically naive, but frank and independent twenty-one year old  woman, not given to ultra-femininity/feminine wiles; she is the daughter of a hiring manager at a railroad; in the family sexual division of labor, her loving mother represents emotions, her father, facts. She is religious (“Perhaps we will all be saved”) and reads Plato for Utopian inspiration. When asked how she felt about Negroes and Jews, she was “guided by the idea of the individual,” but she wouldn’t want to marry a Negro with dark skin or a man with a big nose. However, as a nurse’s aid, she did not object to caring for Negro patients. Adorno quotes her “joke” [what would Freud have said?]: “Maybe if the Jews get in power they would liquidate the majority! That’s not smart. Because we would fight back.” Admirably free of bigotry, she is also free of “repression with regard to her feelings toward her father: ‘I want to marry someone just like my father’ ” (783).  Distinguishing themselves from “manipulative” fascists, the authors, in their concluding sentence, prescribe an antithetical appeal to the emotions: “…we need not suppose that appeal to emotion belongs to those who strive in the direction of fascism, while democratic propaganda must limit itself to reason and restraint. If fear and destructiveness are the major emotional sources of fascism, eros belongs mainly to democracy” (976).  Henry A. Murray’s Thematic Apperception Test was used by Adorno’s colleagues creating “the F-scale” (the potential for fascist behavior);  Murray’s and Lasswell’s books are recommended in the bibliography.

[viii] 94. Gordon Allport, ABC’s of Scapegoating (New York: Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, 1983, ninth rev.ed., first publ. 1948).

[ix] 95. Gardner Murphy, Civilian Morale, 427.

[x] 96. Murray-Allport worksheet #16, “Psychology of Influence (Education Persuasion) Applied to Morale Building in America,” 13.

[xi]   97. David Hume had confidently asserted that unpredictability enters politics when factions are infiltrated by radical religion; by triumphalist hypermoralistic, hyper-rationalist puritan extremists: the link between cause and effect would no longer be obvious. See History of England, Vol. 6, year 1617. The Hume entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1971, presents Hume as a philosopher whose major contribution was his demonstration that there could be no theory of reality, no verification for our assertions of causality. Faced with the necessity of action we rely upon our habit of association and (subjective) beliefs. And yet Hume is described as a thinker who saw philosophy as “the inductive science of human nature.” He is not  described as a moderate or a Tory.

August 27, 2009

Hitler and the “Jewish” mind, Part Two

Arnold Bocklin: Medusa, 1878

    In the pages that follow, I (Medusa) quote passages from the knightly Hitler’s writing that suggest a pattern of blended phobia, hysteria, paranoia, and time-tested conservative reform, explained through analysis of double binds and patterns of the switch. (Add umlaut to Bocklin, over the “o”.) Note Hitler’s unmistakable anticommunism, yet many persons today present him as a man of the Left!

[Hitler:] “These men [his fellow construction workers in Vienna] rejected everything: the nation as an invention of the “capitalistic” (how often I was forced to hear this single word!) classes; the fatherland as an instrument of the bourgeoisie for the exploitation of the working class; the authority of the law as a means for oppressing the proletariat; the school as an institution for breeding slaves and slaveholders; religion as a means for stultifying the people and making them easier to exploit; morality as a symptom of stupid, sheep-like patience, etc. There was absolutely nothing which was not drawn through the mud of a terrifying depth. (Mein Kampf, Chapter 2, 40, Manheim transl.).”

[Hitler:] “Millions of workers were surely inwardly hostile to the Social Democratic Party at first, but their resistance was overcome by the manner, often quite insane, in which the bourgeois parties opposed any demand of a social nature. The simply hidebound obstruction of all attempts to improve working conditions, of safety devices on machines, of prevention of child labor and of protection for women at least during the months when she carries the future comrade of the people beneath her heart–all this helped to drive the masses into the nets of Social Democracy, which gratefully seized upon every case of similar contemptible sentiments. Our political citizenry, our bourgeoisie, can never make good such past sins. For by resisting all attempts to cure social ills, it sowed hatred, and apparently justified the claim of the deadly enemies of the whole people that the Social Democratic party alone represented the interests of the working people (MK, 56-57).”

[Hitler suggests a standard for good trade unions:] “If union activity envisages and attains the goal of improving the position of a class that belongs to the pillars of the nation, its effect not only is not hostile to state or fatherland, but is “national” in the truest sense of the word. It is helping after all, to lay the social groundwork without which no generally national education is thinkable. It deserves the highest credit for destroying social cancers by attacking both intellectual and physical bacilli, and thus contributing to the general health of the body of the people (MK, 57).”

[Hitler appeals to workers and peasants:] “Our present struggle is merely a continuation, on the international level, of the struggle we waged on the national level. Let everyone, in his own field, take care to do his best, with the knowledge that on every occasion we were pushing the best of us forward; that’s how a people surpasses itself and surpasses others. Nothing can happen to us if we remain faithful to these principles, but one must know how to advance, step by step, how to reconnoitre the ground and remove, one after another, the obstacles one finds there.
    If one neglected to appeal to the masses, one’s choice would be rather too confined to intellectuals. We would lack brute strength. Brute strength consists of the peasant and worker, for the insecurity of their daily life keeps them close to the state of nature. Give them brains into the bargain, and you turn them into incomparable men of action.
   Above all, we must not allow our élite to become an exclusive society.
   The son of an official, at the fifth or sixth generation, is doomed to become a lawyer…So what kind of role can a nation play when it’s governed by people of that sort–people who weigh and analyse everything? One couldn’t make history with people like that…The bourgeois with whom we flirted at the time of our struggle were simply aesthetes. (Table Talk, Nov. 1-2, 1941, 108).

[Hitler warns about German craze for objectivity:] “It was a fundamental error to discuss guilt from the standpoint that Germany could not be made solely responsible for the outbreak of the catastrophe; the right way was to load the guilt solely upon the enemy, even if this had not corresponded to the actual situation, which in this case it really did. What was the result of this half-measure? The great masses of a people do not consist of diplomats or even of teachers of international law, in fact not even of people capable of a reasoned judgment; they are human beings, wavering, inclined to doubt and uncertainty. The moment their own propaganda concedes so much as the faintest glimmer of justice to the other side, the seeds for doubt of their own cause have been sown. The masses are in no position to tell where the enemy’s misdeeds end and their own begin. In such cases they become uncertain and suspicious, particularly if the enemy is not guilty of the same foolishness, but puts the guilt lock, stock and barrel upon his adversary. What’s more natural than for one’s own people at last to believe the hostile propaganda, more concerted and single-minded [geschlossener, einheitlicher] as it is, rather than one’s own. This is most easily proved to be true with a people who suffers from the objectivity craze [deutsche Objektivitätsfimmel] as severely as the Germans do! For here everyone will strive to do no injustice to the enemy, even at the risk of accusing, nay destroying, his own people and State. The masses never become conscious that it is not thus intended in high quarters. The overwhelming majority of the people is so feminine in tendency and attitude that emotion and feelings [gefühlsmassige Empfindung] rather than sober consideration determine its thought and action.
But this feeling is not complicated; it is simple and firm [einfach und geschlossen]. There are not many shadings [Differenzierungen], but a positive or a negative, love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie, but never half this or half that, or partly, etc.
All these things English propaganda in particular realized–and took account of with positive genius. Here were no half-measures which might have raised doubts. (Mein Kampf,Part One, Chapter 6, “War Propaganda”).

[Medusa/Clare comments:] The Ludwig Lore translation of these passages misleadingly renders einfach as “simple,” geschlossen as “firm,” gefühlsmassige Empfindung as “emotion and feelings.” Other translations add the theme of coherence, but neither singleness nor closure.

[footnote:] See for instance Hideya Kumata and Wilbur Schramm, “Propaganda Theory of the German Nazis,” Psychological Warfare Casebook, 1958, p. 49.  The authors translate the sentence as “This sentiment, however, is not complicated but very simple and complete.”  The “Nazi socialists” oppose “objectivity” (48).  The article was originally prepared for the USIA by the University of Illinois, Urbana, Jan. 1955, and part of Four Working Papers on Propaganda Theory. (It would have been more correct to say that all propagandists desire closure and hence oppose ambiguity and mixed-messages.)  A few pages later, the authors quote Goebbels as he established the Propaganda Ministry, “…Monopoly control of all media of mass communication within the movement’s zone of influence must be accomplished.  These include music, art, theater, architecture, books, tourist trade, fairs, exhibitions and schools, as well as the usual channels.  If possible, however, control of communications will be exercised in such a way as not to give an impression of direct manipulation (52).” See Ernest K. Bramsted, Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925-1945 (Michigan State University Press, 1965): 26. Bramsted accurately transmits Hitler’s notion of simplicity but ignores the point about the general German craze for objectivity, maintaining that Hitler looked down upon the masses. “As we have seen, it was the success of Allied propaganda which made Hitler realize that propaganda had to be primitive and to be attuned to the very limited understanding of the masses. It had to be confined to a few points and to be carried out with persistency. Hitler was convinced that the Allies had looked at the masses with the same contempt that he himself felt for them. In Mein Kampf Hitler made made much of the subjective character of the people, who, he declared, are “so feminine in their nature and attitude that their activities and thought are motivated less by sober consideration than by feeling and sentiment.” Their sentiment was uncomplicated, and very simple. It did not allow for differentiation; it was positive or negative, based on love and hatred, it only knew right or wrong, truth or lie, but no shades, no ability to see two sides of a question. English propaganda had “understood and considered all this in the most ingenious manner.” From these observations Hitler arrived at a basic tenet of all propaganda, “it has to confine itself to little and to repeat this eternally.” (He cites pp. 240, 237, 238, 239 of the 1939 translation.)

[Medusa, cont.]     I am not arguing that the Nazis were not advocating the most rigid control of culture to propagate their ideology; rather that they would never have boasted about a Big Lie, and moreover, they believed in the correctness and goodness of their Weltanschauung as they skillfully mobilized the Germans for war and sacrifice.  I have written this essay to alert liberals that what has passed for “the Left” bears a striking resemblance to the racialist thinking of the Third Reich; that they have a common origin in German Romanticism, and that this lineage must not be discounted in reassessments of policy choices.  

     Although these last paragraphs are usually excerpted (briefly) by rival propagandists to prove that Hitler preached the necessity for the constantly reiterated Big Lie directed on behalf of his own power lust and against the interests of the masses, there is no support for such a reading; indeed he would have been crazy to have made such a statement in a book heavily promoted during the Third Reich and intended to win over farmers, workers, and small businessmen to the Nazi program. Rather, to evade “the objectivity craze” (Stackpole ed. 1939) or “the mania for objectivity” of “the German people” (Houghton Mifflin, 1939), Hitler copies the British by stressing the necessity for simple/single, clear, conclusive propaganda images to match the single intuitive emotion (gefühlsmassige Empfindung) of the masses that determines their thoughts and actions (Diese Empfindung aber ist nicht kompliziert, sondern sehr einfach und geschlossen). Hitler is not only protecting the people from the indecision that leads to defeat, he nervously seeks and roots himself in one monocausal, internally consistent historical explanation/image with no moral mix-up, no refusal of closure, no “frightful daubs.” Unlike “Hitler”–the lover of Romantic fogs and mists/ruins and rubble of the long Marxist night transmitted by the moderates–Hitler is a neo-classical morning man like themselves. Weighing and analysing everything, however, immobilizes him; close to “nature”–the idealized rustic or small-town family, the good labor union–his capacity for effective action (briefly?) returns.

Later chapters of Mein Kampf bear out my argument (see MK Part Two, Chapters 6, 10, and 11).

[footnote:] It is customary for scholars to cite Chapter 10 as source of the Big Lie strategy, but here as elsewhere, Hitler is not bragging about swindling the masses. Rather he is describing long-term [Jewish] “ethical and moral poisoning” of the German people, then castigating the Jews as liars who deny their racial nature, instead claiming to be a religion. The complete quote (Manheim translation): “It required the whole bottomless falsehood of the Jews and their Marxist fighting organization to lay the blame for the collapse [of Germany at the end of the war] on that very man who alone, with superhuman energy and will power, tried to prevent the catastrophe he foresaw and save the nation from its time of deepest humiliation and disgrace. By branding Ludendorff as guilty for the loss of the World War, they took the weapon of moral right from the one dangerous accuser who could have risen against the traitors to the fatherland. In this they proceeded on the sound principle that the magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil, and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big. Such a falsehood will never enter their heads, and they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such monstrous effrontery and infamous representation in others; yes, even when enlightened on the subject, they will long doubt and waver, and continue to accept at least one of these causes as true. Therefore, something of even the most insolent lie will always remain and stick—a fact which all the great lie-virtuosi and lying-clubs in this world know only too well and also make the most treacherous use of.

   [Hitler, cont.:] “The foremost connoisseurs of this truth regarding the possibilities in the use of falsehood and slander have always been the Jews; for after all, their whole existence is based on one single great lie, to wit, that they are a religious community while actually they are a race—and what a race! One of the greatest minds of humanity has nailed them forever as such in an eternally correct phrase of fundamental truth: he called them ‘the great masters of the lie.’ And anyone who does not recognize this will never in this world be able to help the truth to victory.” (231-232, Houghton Mifflin edition, 1999).

[Medusa links Hitler readings to typical readings by antisemites:]    Sentences from Chapter 6 are frequently taken out of context to confirm Hitler’s cynicism, irrationalism, protean character, and power-hunger; i.e., Hitler is read as an archetypal Jew. But in Hitler’s text, mass suggestion is deployed solely to build community, to fortify the isolated, meek individual in his adherence to a new, more historically truthful idea, to help the worker switch more comfortably away from the ruin of Marxist internationalism/war guilt which, thanks to Jewish orators/agitators, has captured the irrational, emotionally resistant portion of his psyche: the heart. Crucially, the focus of Hitler’s discussion of propaganda is the question of the war guilt or innocence of the German people, a matter obviously intertwined with Hitler’s inhibitions about criticism of authority within the family, but also a genuine confusion given the secrecy and duplicity of the ruling class of Germany.

[footnote:] See Fritz Fischer, Germany’s Aims in the First World War, 1961.  Fischer had access to archives not opened until after the war;  he argued that the German people had no evidence to contradict the apparent responsibility of  Russia, France and England in starting the war.  His revisionist account remains controversial and is opposed by scholars who take the view that Germany stumbled into war.

[Medusa, cont.]    There is a tortuous line from doubt to parricide, a pattern possibly related to his father Alois’ cosmopolitanism, perceived by Hitler as contradicting “pronounced national sentiments” and described without apparent rancor by Hitler: “…he had arrived at more or less cosmopolitan views, which, despite his pronounced national sentiments, not only remained intact, but also affected me to some extent. [M.K., 51, Manheim trans.].”

Calm will switch to hysteria for the tension between cosmopolitanism and nationalism is loaded for Hitler, though apparently invisible to some Freudians. 

[footnote:] I could not find the sentence regarding the tension between cosmopolitanism and nationalism in Saul Friedländer, Nazis et l’antisémitisme, 1971; nor in his Introduction to Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution (Berkeley: UC Press, 1984): 3.  Fleming is describing the debate regarding the exact period when Hitler became antisemitic.  He quotes (but does not footnote)  Mein Kampf, Chapter 2: “It is difficult if not impossible for me to say today when the word ‘Jew’ first gave me pause for serious reflection.  I cannot recall ever having even heard the word in my father’s house while he was still alive.  I believe that the old gentleman would have regarded as entirely backward a particular emphasis given to this word….At school I found no reason to question the picture I received from home, either [what picture?!!]….It was not until I was fourteen or fifteen that I came across the word ‘Jew’ more frequently, possibly in connection with political discussions.”  This lapse of course supports the author’s thesis that Hitler was a frustrated artist losing himself in Wagner, hewing to racial theories that placed Jews “at the bottom end of the scale,” the “anti-race” representing “worthless life (8).”   In this context, “anti-race” could mean pollutant to pure races, not cosmopolitanism as hostile to the politics of national identity.

     [fn.cont.:] See also Rudolf Binion, HitlerAmong the Germans (N.Y.: Elsevier, 1976). Binion obliterates the father’s opposition to Hitler’s artistic ambitions and blames mother: “The Oedipal-minded will ask where Hitler’s father came into his politics.  The answer is: in a by-motive. His pampering at the breast left him especially vulnerable to the classic moment of untruth when, in coming to fear castration by the father, a boy will remember his weaning, construed as a warning.  Little Adolf saw his father, then, as the culprit behind his weaning–as liable for the mother’s breast having been removed.  Bloch (the Jewish doctor who treated Klara Hitler’s breast cancer) threw back to the father once the mother had committed herself to his close care and to the castrating father when he ordered the mother’s breast removed, especially as the mother too was thereby castrated after a fashion…”  But Hitler’s style is both Jewish and American:  “Now for the touchiest riddle left.  Hitler’s image of “the Jew” was a self-image over and beyond its distorted reference to Bloch in 1907.  More exactly, one part of it was a self-reflection and he aped the other part…He styled himself like a Jewish prophet…[Hitler took the theme of racism and extermination from] the American heritage–by way of cowboys-and-Indian stories in the first instance.”

     [fn.cont.:] The absence of the theme of filial criticism as parricide in the psychoanalytic scholarship on Hitler is not noted by Wolfgang Benz, “Warding Off The Past,” op.cit., even though he describes the outrage in Germany following an attempt by Niklas Frank “to engage in memory work in public, merciless toward both his own person and his father, Hitler’s infamous governor-general in occupied Poland….” (211).  This incident confirms my impression that “the Jews” represent the critical spirit (objectivity) that spares no one in the search for an accurate history.  It is curious and disturbing that the late Tim Mason, an historical materialist, claiming that there was no immediate revolutionary threat after 1930, found theories of the authoritarian family unhelpful in his attempt to grasp Nazi brutality;  see “Open Questions on Nazism,” op.cit., 209. [end footnote]

[Medusa:]    Compare several parallel passages from Mein Kampf (publ. 1925-1927) and the Secret Book (written 1928). Here is an increasingly vertiginous Hitler at wits end.  Hitler wants his antisemitism to be understood as rational: grounded in fact, in study and personal experience. At first he was a cosmopolitan like his father, opposed to “organized hostility” against the Jews. But in Vienna, Hitler meets an “apparition” (an orthodox Jew with black caftan and black hair locks), becomes disillusioned with the Jewish “world press,” and feels the need to separate Germans from liberal Jews and liberal Jews from Zionists. Now he will unmask the hidden Jewishness (Zionism) of the liberal Jew, then the secret Jewish control of both white slavery and Social Democracy.

[Hitler, from “Learning and Suffering in Vienna”:] “If one knows this people, the veil of misconception about aim and meaning of the party fall from his eyes, and the ape-like meaning of Marxism rises grinning from the fog and mist of social talk (MK, 62).”

[Medusa:] Personal contact has brought demystification; Hitler switches from confusion to clarity and (temporary) peace:  “When I recognized the Jew as the leader of Social Democracy, the scales began to fall from my eyes. With this a long spiritual struggle came to an end (MK, 70).”

   No sooner has he seen the light when suddenly Hitler switches to a topic not set up in the immediately preceding paragraphs, moving in and out of hypnotic confusion:

[Hitler:] “Even in daily contact with my fellow-workmen I was struck by the extraordinary chameleon power by which they took several attitudes toward a single question, often within a few days, sometimes even within a few hours. I could scarcely understand how people who, taken singly, still held reasonable views could suddenly lose them the moment they came under the spell of the masses. Often it was enough to drive one to despair. I would argue for hours, and finally believe that this time at last I had broken the ice or cleared away some piece of nonsense, and would be feeling heartily glad of my success; and then I would be grieved to find that I had to begin all over again. It had all been futile. The madness of their opinions seemed always to swing back again like a perpetual pendulum.
    “I could understand everything; that they were dissatisfied with their lot, cursed Fate, which often dealt them such hard knocks; hated the business men, who seemed to them the heartless tools of this Fate; railed against government offices, which in their eyes had no feeling for the workers’ situation [they, the workers, are scapegoating? C.S.]; that they demonstrated against food prices, and marched through the streets in support of their demands–all this one could still understand without referring to reason. But what I could not understand was the boundless hatred they felt for their own people, the way they despised its grandeur, defiled its history, and dragged great men in the gutter.
   ” This struggle against their own kind, their own nest, their own homeland, was as senseless as it was incomprehensible. It was unnatural.
They could be temporarily cured of this vice, but only for days, for weeks at most. If later one met a supposed convert, he had fallen back into his old self. His unnatural tendencies would have him again in their grip. (MK, Ludwig Lore translation, 1939, 70).

Persistently, Hitler tries to disabuse his “own little circle” of their “Marxist madness”:

[Hitler:]    “The more disputes I had with them, the better acquainted I became with their dialectics. First they would count on the stupidity of their adversaries, and then, if there was no way out, they pretended stupidity themselves. If all else failed, then they claimed they did not understand correctly, or being challenged, instantly jumped to another subject [!], and talked truisms; but if these were agreed to they at once applied them to entirely different matters, and then in turn, being caught again, they would dodge and have no exact knowledge. No matter where you seized one of these apostles, your hand grasped slimy ooze, which poured in separate streams through the fingers, only to unite again the next moment…I was often simply paralyzed. One did not know which to admire more–their fluency or their artistry in lying…(72).”

[footnote:]  In other editions “slimy ooze” is translated as “slimy jelly” (Houghton Mifflin, 1939, ed. John Chamberlain, et al); and “jelly-like slime” (Houghton Mifflin, 1943, 1971, ed. Ralph Manheim).

[Medusa:]   Next, Hitler has another (?) odd idea of what constitutes a logical opposition; he seems to be oscillating between class collaboration and antimodernism:    “On the one hand it was the duty of every thinking person to force his way into the front ranks of the accursed [the cosmopolitan Social Democratic] movement, thus perhaps to prevent it from going to extremes; on the other hand, however, the actual creators of this national disease must have been true devils. Only in the brain of a monster–not of a human being–could the plan take shape for an organization the eventual result of whose activity must be the collapse of human civilization and the desolation of the world (MK, 73).”

    [Hitler:] ” The ultimate expression of this general valuation is the historical, cultural image of a people, which reflects the sum of all the radiations of its blood value or of the race values united in it.  Blood mixing and lowering of the race are not seldom introduced through a so-called predilection for things foreign, which in reality is an underestimation of one’s own cultural values as against alien peoples. Once a people no longer appreciates the cultural expression of its own spiritual life conditioned through its blood, or even begins to feel ashamed of it, in order to turn to alien expressions of life, it renounces the strength which lies in the harmony of its blood and the cultural life which has sprung from it. It becomes torn apart, unsure in its judgment of the world picture and its expressions, loses the perception and the feeling for its own purposes, and in place of this sinks into a confusion of international ideas, conceptions, and the cultural hodge-podge springing from them. Then the Jew can make his entry in any form and this master of international poisoning and race corruption will not rest until he has thoroughly uprooted and thereby corrupted such a people. The end is then the loss of a definite unitary race value and as a result, the final decline. [Hitler’s Secret Book,1928, 28-29].”

[Medusa:]     Is Hitler re-experiencing the suspended contradiction which did, in imagination, shatter the “intact” father? Is father the hypercritical devil whose excesses, treachery and ambiguity empty the world of meaning, demanding obedience without a clear set of rules? Had the desire to escape such confusion turned the adolescent boy into a murderer? These passages may take our understanding of Hitler’s psyche beyond the suggestions of Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, Adorno and Horkheimer, and other Freudians that Hitler, with other authoritarian personalities, possesses a sadistic-anal social character, is constantly callous and over-armored, is torn between defiance and submission, and perceives Jews as sexual aggressors and castrating fathers.
     Such psychoanalytic explanations are too abstract and ahistoric, unrooted in Hitler’s subjective experience of his life, his self-understanding. By following his psychodynamics as Hitler himself defined them, we glimpsed a man with no boundaries and terrified that he may lose his balance: open the door even a crack to the German craze for objectivity and Hitler (unlike Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”) literally does not know where he is standing, where he begins and others leave off, who is a Jew and who is not. There is no “I” there, no safe prospect, no cognition, no “bourgeois subjectivity,” therefore no observing ego, no possibility of a relatively complete history, no sublimity.

[footnote:] Cf. E. Jäckel’s very different observation of Hitler’s “panic fear of changing his mind,” not the same as being caught in double-binds and switched no matter what he does.

[Medusa:]    When Hitler says “they” to whom is he referring? Workers, Jewish whoremasters, Social Democratic pamphleteers and the masses have run together like “slimy ooze.” Is this an image of the dissolution of his class seeping through the crystal clean facade, a quicksand so powerfully dragging him to hell that Hitler, even armed with “exact knowledge” and “racial value,” may not enter the movement to moderate it? Like any gentle chivalrous knight he steels himself only to destroy the monster; in this mood he is turning away from class collaboration and its intolerable suspension of cosmopolitanism and nationalism. If the Jew perishes, Hitler saves himself from father, and father from himself: thus he has reconstructed the lovely family with no double-binds; is this the flight to romantic authoritarianism that some of “the children” of multiculturalism have taken since the 1960s? Obviously, Hitler’s panic in the Gorgon face of ambiguity could have been transferred to the perception of interpenetration of categories and points of view expressed in cubism and other forms of aesthetic modernism (Hinz: “problematic or unfinished work”) proscribed by the Nazis. From Mein Kampf to the Table Talk, then, Hitler constantly returns to the theme of his painful confusion when asked to understand modern (abstract, constantly revised, internally contradictory) analyses of society; indeed he will directly associate to talk of exterminating or otherwise removing the Jews.

[footnote:] It need not be the Jew, it may be a modern woman who switches Hitler into panic.  See Table Talk entry for Feb.5, 1942 on Baroness Abegg, in Dietrich Eckart’s opinion, “the most intelligent he’d ever known”: “I’d have been willing to accept the intelligence if it hadn’t been accompanied by the most spiteful tongue imaginable.  The woman was a real scorpion.  She was as blonde as flax, with blue eyes and excessively long canine teeth, like an Englishwoman.  I admit she was remarkably intelligent…She had travelled a lot, all over the world.  She was always in one or other of two extreme states.  The first kept her at home in a state of almost complete collapse.  She would sprawl on her veranda, like a run-down battery, whilst everybody around her was kept busy attending to her.  The second state was one of incredible petulance–she’d fly into a rage, sweep out like a whirlwind, climb up somewhere and come rushing torrentially down again.”  See his earlier remarks against feminism in a speech to the National Socialist Women’s Organization, Sept. 1934: “…It is not true, as Jewish intellectuals assert, that respect depends on the overlapping of spheres of activities of the sexes; this respect [Nazi] demands that neither sex should try to do that which belongs to the sphere of the other.  It lies in the last resort in the fact that each knows that the other is doing everything necessary to maintain the whole community….” quoted Documents on Nazis, 1919-1945, introduced and edited Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham (London: Jonathan Cape): 364.

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